We’ve been producing journalism in the public interest for 10 years, with the aim of making Hawaii a better place, and we have no plans to stop any time soon. But we need your help to keep this critical work going strong. For a limited time, donations to Civil Beat will be doubled, thanks to a matching gift from the NewsMatch program!
Civil Beat has raised $44,000 towards our $200,000 goal!
(AP) — A 92-year-old Native Hawaiian princess has changed her trust to ensure her wife receives $40 million and all her personal property, including her Chihuahua “Girlie Girl,” according to court records.
Abigail Kawananakoa inherited her wealth by being the great-granddaughter of James Campbell, an Irish businessman who made his fortune as a sugar plantation owner and one of Hawaii’s largest landowners.
Native Hawaiians, who consider her a princess because she’s a descendent of the family that ruled the islands before the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893, have been watching the ongoing legal wrangling closely because they are concerned about the fate of the foundation she set up to benefit Hawaiian causes.
Kawananakoa’s lawyers said in court papers filed this week she amended her trust. They want a judge’s approval for the changes amid a court battle after she suffered a stroke.
Abigail Kawananakoa, left, with her wife, Veronica Worth, and her Chihuahua, at a hearing in September.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
In September, Judge Robert Browning ruled Kawananakoa lacks the mental capacity to manage her $215 million trust and appointed First Hawaiian Bank to serve as trustee and removed Jim Wright, her longtime attorney who stepped in as trustee after last year’s stroke.
Kawananakoa said she’s fine, fired Wright and then married Veronica Gail Worth, her girlfriend of 20 years. She attempted to amend her trust to remove Wright and replace him with three others, including Worth.
Removing a trustee is less complex than replacing one, Browning said in not allowing her to select new trustees.
She now wants to create a new foundation that will benefit Hawaiians and exclude board members appointed by Wright.
“I will not contribute any further assets to that foundation because I do not want those individuals having anything to do with my trust, my estate, and any charitable gifts I make during my lifetime or at my passing,” she said in the amended trust.
The current foundation is asking a judge to appoint a guardian for Kawananakoa.
The foundation is also concerned about artifacts — including a key to King Kalakaua’s crypt — the amended trust says will be given to Worth, said Rosie Goo, an attorney representing the foundation.
“It is our understanding that these are museum-quality artifacts that she had intended to be a in a museum,” Goo said. “This is not what she chose for herself when she was fully in control of her decision-making.”
Michael Lilly, an attorney for Kawananakoa, said he couldn’t comment on the foundation’s court filing. Meanwhile, the bank is still deciding whether to accept the trusteeship, he said.
Kawananakoa “is in fine health,” Lilly said.
Stay Up To Date On The Coronavirus And Other Hawaii Issues